So You Want To Read Comic Books: Go to Wikipedia!

I grew up reading comic books. I’m from a comic book family, but as I grew older I found there were certain comics and characters I knew nothing about. Or I would be unable to afford my own comic books and would miss important universe-changing story arcs because of it. I used to think that going to Wikipedia to look up anything about characters or story lines was wrong or cheating somehow, but it’s not, and don’t let anyone tell you different!

 

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So You Want to Read Comic Books: Watch the Movies and TV Shows

It has been a while since we talked about getting into comic books, so let’s get started by looking at my first recommendation:

1. Watch the Movies and TV Shows

Chances are this is one thing pretty much all of you have already done, so congratulations! You are officially one step closer to being a regular comic book reader. For those of you that haven’t, I suggest you check some of them out.

“But wait,” you say, “I have heard many comic book fans criticizing the movies and TV shows. How do I know which will enhance my comic book knowledge and which will turn me off comics forever, or worse yet, make me stick out like an obvious comic book noob?”

Excellent question! I personally believe that all comic book knowledge is good knowledge. Even the worst movie will introduce you to the basics. Who’s the hero? Who is the villain? Are there any love interests? What’s the hero’s back story? Etc. It will also introduce you to what most hardcore comic fans hate and why they hate it. Most Batman fans hate the movie Batman and Robin and/or think that the Adam West Batman TV series was ridiculous, but you will still hear comic book fans talking about them and even quoting them. Sometimes you have to understand the bad things to understand the culture.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Geek and Sundry

It’s Wednesday again, and you know what that means. Yep, another web crush! This week’s web crush goes to Geek and Sundry, my new favorite site.

Felicia Day is my idol. She’s smart, funny, geeky, likes cool things, and is super pretty… okay, this is getting creepy, isn’t it. I’ll put aside any real life crushes for now and talk about how awesome Geek and Sundry actually is.

Geek and Sundry is an internet community that produces web videos about comics, games, books, hobbies and so much more. So, basically, all of the good things. They also have an IRC Chat Room, but I have been too nervous to join.

So let’s talk about some of the shows on Geek and Sundry!

First, there is Felicia Day’s Flog, a video blog where Felicia goes and does… whatever she wants. I promise it’s cool. Just check out the preview.

The show is so awesome! Day starts off every show by giving you her top five favorite things of the week (Fav Five!), which are always something interesting, whether it’s a new internet meme or a cool new game. We then get to see Felicia do whatever she wants, whether it’s blacksmithing or singing an ode to Carrie Fisher. And before you ask: Is there anything Felicia Day can’t do? Geek and Sundry answered that too.

There are in fact several things that Felicia cannot do (all entirely having to do with the laws of physics). We have decided not to print them here in the event that she might one day acquire super powers from fallen space debris or a small insect, at which point the question will be rendered moot. Plus, it’s always good to keep up the mystique, right?

Can you see why I love this site? She also takes questions from fans and types out her answers on her genuine hipster typewriter and mails them to you.

Season 5 of The Guild is also appearing on Geek and Sundry, but I’m not going to talk about that since I already did a post on The Guild, which you can find here. It’s like the second web crush I ever did, because I love The Guild. A lot. And Felicia Day. She’s my hero. Oh God, I’m fangirling again. Okay, moving swiftly on. But before we do that, since I’m not talking about The Guild here, have a video.

Next we have Sword and Laser, started by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. Sword and Laser is a book club turned podcast, and now, it’s been turned into a web series. Huzzah!

This show, as you learned from the video, airs every other Friday and discusses science fiction and fantasy books with the authors and of course all their viewers. My favorite thing about this show is that they don’t just talk to well-known authors, but new and interesting up coming ones as well. I highly recommend it, though I admit, if you are like me and have a lot of reading to catch up on this show will be problematic to your life. I’ve already added two more books to my ever growing list.

Then we have Dark Horse Motion Comics where, as you may have guessed, Dark Horse Comics are brought to life. It’s basically every nerd’s dream.

What else can I say about this show? It’s animated comics. Who doesn’t like that? Go watch it.

Finally, we have Table Top, where celebrities play awesome nerdy table top games like Settlers of Catan and Last Night on Earth. Oh, and did I mention Wil Wheaton is hosting it? Yeah, he is.

What else am I supposed to say about this series? Awesome celebrities and show hosted by Wil Wheaton. I’ll say it again, Wil Wheaton. Why aren’t you watching this show yet? And if you are–golf claps.

The final two shows, Written by a Kid and Learning Town, haven’t premiered yet, but look fantastic. Check it out.

Well that’s all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed my latest web crush and that my very real crush on Felicia Day wasn’t too distracting. I should also tell you that Felicia Day is going to be in this week’s episode of Supernatural. I’m so excited! Except then I remembered Supernatural has a history of killing all their female characters… Please, Supernatural, don’t make me cry any more! Okay, this is getting embarrassing, Lady Geek Girl here, signing out, and telling you to check out Geek and Sundry.


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I Guess Whitewashing is Okay Again

There have been many issues around race and comic book movies over the years. Marvel I feel has been the most notable with casting black actors in typically white roles. Alicia in Fantastic Four was black instead of the usual blonde-haired, blue-eyed character she is in the comics. Nick Fury, now played by Samuel L. Jackson is black, and perhaps the most controversial, Idris Elba played the Norse god Heimdall in Thor.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Christ Figures

Believe it or not Jesus often comes to save many of your favorite geek characters. I have to assume at this point that Jesus was and still is a bit of nerd, because he seems to be featured much more often in nerd movies, books, TV shows, etc. Either that or nearly every nerd is a Christian, or maybe it’s because the Christ figure story is very compelling.

The story, for those of you who don’t know it, usually goes something like this, special baby is born, special baby grows up and faces horrible trials, dies selflessly to save everyone from whatever horrible thing they are facing, and then is resurrected and defeats evil for good.

Usually, there are other indicators denoting a Christ figure as well, such as some kind of Trinitarian aspect to the character, a descent into the literal or figural hell, and usually some connection to royalty or a very powerful father figure.

So let’s talk about some of my favorite Christ figures.

I know you’re all thinking it, so I’ll start with the first and most popular Christ figure.

“Because I’m Jesus.”

Aslan, from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, I sometimes feel is less a Christ figure and simply Christ, but that’s just me being silly. Basically if Jesus isn’t actually in your book, then whoever stands in for him is a Christ figure, and Aslan is one of the best. Chronicles of Narnia is an allegory; that’s what C.S. Lewis meant it to be, so Aslan is literally Jesus. He is the king of Narnia (meaning Everything), he selflessly sacrifices himself for Edmund (humanity), is tortured and killed for it, then rises from the dead to defeat the White Witch (Satan/evil). Furthermore, it is clear that Aslan has always existed, the same as Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Jn.1:1)” Aslan describes something similar to the Witch in the movie saying, “Do not cite the Deep Magic to me, Witch. I was there when it was written.” There are so many parallels to be drawn between Aslan and Jesus, because C.S. Lewis intended it to be a pretty literal retelling of Christ’s story. Though the books have much to offer adults they were originally intended for children, and it shows. There is no way to confuse the message in Chronicles of Narnia, at least where Aslan is concerned.

J.R.R. Tolkien, a close friend of Lewis’s, wrote a little series that you may have heard of called The Lord of the Rings. If anyone has a market on Christ figures it’s Tolkien—he has a total of three Christ figures in one story. I should note here that Tolkien was very, very, very Catholic and it shows in his writing. Our three Christ figures in The Lord of the Rings are Frodo, Aragorn, and Gandalf. Gandalf is probably the most obvious, because he literally dies and is resurrected, and when he comes back he’s white, glowy, and impressive. Yeah, Tolkien pretty much hits you over the head with Gandalf, but I think he did that on purpose. The reader expects Gandalf to do something amazing and mystical because he is a wizard, so when Christ figure aspects start appearing with Frodo and Aragorn we’re pretty surprised, but it simply shows that grace/Christ/goodness can be found in the strangest of places. A ranger can be a king underneath, and a simple Hobbit can save the world.

Aragorn is a king that has been gone from his kingdom and is destined to return and bring harmony back to the land. If it sounds like the second coming of Christ, that’s because it’s supposed to. There is also a reference to a journey into hell when Aragorn journeys to find the Dead Men of Dunharrow.

Frodo is another Christ figure. He carries the ring to Mordor, which gets heavy throughout the journey. This parallels Christ carrying the sins of the world, as well as Christ carrying the cross to his crucifixion. The parallel between Christ and the cross and Frodo and the ring is made even more explicit by Sam helping to carry the ring and Frodo up to Mount Doom when the weight gets too heavy for him, in the same manner that Simon the Cyrenian helped Christ carry the cross. Frodo is also pierced in the side by the Witch-King on Weathertop, similar to Christ being stabbed with the spear while on the cross. Though Frodo does not literally die nor is reborn like Gandalf, he does appear to be dead when poisoned by Shelob and later wakes up in Mordor. And finally in the end Frodo goes to the Undying Lands (aka Heaven) with the elves, reflecting Christ’s bodily ascent into heaven.

The reason that I mentioned Tolkien being very Catholic is because these three characters combined show the three offices of Christ. This is something I believe I have seen other Christians talk about, but it seems more often emphasized by Catholics, but to any Protestant out there, feel free to correct me if this is untrue. The three offices of Christ are priest, prophet, and king, and these three characters represent that almost perfectly. Aragorn clearly fits the kingly role, while I would say Gandalf represents the prophet role by revealing truth to his companions, and finally Frodo by going through a similar trial of crucifixion symbolizes the priestly role.

Now if you’re sitting there reading this saying, “but Lady Geek Girl, none of these three figures seem to be perfect analogies for Christ.” Well, that’s because they aren’t. In fact Aslan is probably the only one on this list that fits nearly perfectly into the Christ role, again because Lewis was writing an allegory. Tolkien despised allegories, which is probably why he had three Christ figures instead of one. All three characters, Gandalf, Frodo, and Aragorn together, could make up a perfect Christ figure, but separately they do not because Tolkien did not want to do a strict allegory.

Okay, phew! That’s enough talk about Tolkien; let’s move on.

I always find it funny that so many Christian groups burned Harry Potter books and refused to let their kids read them because of the “evil witchcraft.” I further find it hilarious that everyone, even fans of Harry Potter, where shocked by the fact that Harry died to save everyone and then rose from the dead to finally defeat Voldemort. J.K. Rowling actually tried not to talk too much about the fact that she’s a Christian. In an interview with Max Wyman from the Vancouver Sun on October 26, 2000 when asked if she is a Christian, she said:

Yes, I am. Which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I’ve been asked if I believe in God, I’ve said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what’s coming in the books.

I’ll admit, I didn’t see it coming. I thought that it would be appropriate if Harry died but I never thought she would actually kill him. But Harry of course is a Christ figure and rose again to fight another day. But Harry’s resurrection is actually not what makes me love Harry as a Christ figure. I love him because of all the Christ figures he comes closest to being a pacifist. Yes, Harry uses the Unforgivable curses in the books—again it’s not a perfect analogy—but after Harry rises from the dead he seems to have a more Christ-like perspective on things. For the first time he truly empathizes with Voldemort. When Harry fights him he already knows Voldemort’s wand won’t hurt him so Harry is pretty confident at this point, but I do think it’s important to note that Harry could have just killed Voldemort here, but he doesn’t. Voldemort kills himself in the books, because he can’t kill Harry once again and his own killing curse rebounds on him. Harry never kills him. He actually tries to appeal to Voldemort’s humanity. He calls him Tom and, yes, he does kind of mock his arrogance, but near the end of the battle Harry practically begs Voldemort to repent for what he’s done.

Harry Potter: “Yeah it did, you’re right. But before you try and kill me, I’d advise you to think about what you’ve done…. Think, and try for some remorse, Riddle….”

Voldemort: “What is this?”

Harry Potter: “It’s your one last chance, it’s all you’ve got left…. I’ve seen what you’ll be otherwise…. Be a man…. try…. Try for some remorse….”

This scene is amazing! How many other stories show something like this! Harry wants to save Voldemort. He wants him to be human again instead of the monster he has become. I always kind of wished that this would have worked, that Voldemort would have repented. To see that transformation would have been amazing, but alas it didn’t happen, but we still get a great Christ figure out of it.

Now let’s step away from British fantasy novels, which seem to hold the market on Christ figures, and move into some American comics.

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird… it’s a plane… no, it’s… Jesus…. But seriously if you don’t think Superman is a Christ figure then you are not reading his comics or watching his movies right. I mean dearest Jor-El basically spells it out for us when talking about humanity.

They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.

Jor-El here takes the form of God and seeing that humanity is good sends his only son to help guide them. This quote is repeated in Superman Returns, which continues the Christ figure narrative. When Lex Luthor creates a continent made out of Kryptonite that will wipe out a good portion of the United States, Superman selflessly sacrifices himself and nearly dies when he hurls the landmass into space. In the movie, he passes out while still in space and his body plummets to earth in a classic crucifixion pose.

Add to this Superman’s basic good moral compass and his unwillingness to kill and Jesus is pretty much spelled out for you. There is a reason Jesus wears a Superman shirt in the Godspell musical.

Superman, furthermore, in the comics and the movies, has his dual identity as Clark Kent and Superman, which people argue can be viewed as him being God and man at once. It’s not a perfect analogy, but I can see how it works. However DC Comics has in my opinion a much better Christ figure and analogy for this.

If you have read the graphic novel Kingdom Come, then you probably already know whom the next Christ figure is. The title alone should give you a clue at how heavily religious this graphic novel is. The story tells about the growing conflict between humans and the growing superhero population. Superman tries to mediate between the two groups but fails. In the end an all-out war between the heroes—those with and against Superman—happens, while the humans simultaneously decide to bomb where all the heroes are fighting. Someone has to stop the bomb and save the day, but this isn’t a job for Superman. It’s for Captain Marvel. Billy Batson is a boy magically given the gift to be the great Captain Marvel, but Billy and the Captain are the same person, but also separate. It’s hard to explain. Perhaps the easiest way to do so would be to say that he is God and man, two natures, together and distinct. Yep, just like Jesus and just like Billy. Superman could stop the bomb, but if he does the heroes will run rampant. If he doesn’t they die. Superman proclaims that he can’t choose because really Superman has never been a human person. He’s always a hero—a god.

But you, Billy… you’re both. More than anyone who ever existed, you know what it’s like to live in both worlds. Only you can weigh their worth equally.

In the end, Billy dies. Choosing to sacrifice himself so that both groups can live, and like Christ, by doing so he leaves behind an example to follow.

I asked him to choose between humans and superhumans. But he alone knew that was a false division and made the only choice that ever truly matters. He chose life in the hope that your world and our world could be one world once again.

Billy may be my favorite Christ figure because the message he leaves behind is so powerful and expressed so beautifully here. In the other stories the death and resurrection seem to have little effect on people. It works like magic and is used to defeat evil. Billy doesn’t rise from the dead but is arguably the better Christ figure because he chose life and he let that be his answer to Superman. His legacy is that we need to choose unity and life over death and destruction.

Christ, the real one, didn’t die on the cross for himself or even to defeat evil. He was leaving  an example, a legacy, to follow. And out of all the Christ figures I know of, Billy is the only one that comes closest to this.

“But wait,” you say, “this can’t be the end of the article. There are so many more Christ figures.” Yes, there are, and I would be happy to discuss these and others with you in the comments below.

You know I am kind of disappointed there are no women on this list. There are female characters kind of like this but they are less Christ-like and more… divine.

Next time on Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: The Divine Feminine

Tune in next time and find some religion!

Web Crush Wednesdays: The Cooler Steve Martin

It’s Web Crush Wednesday, party people! Let’s take a look at the latest Web Crush!

webcrush pic

Okay, let me be honest, I hate LMFAO. I don’t think they are very talented. They are catchy and fun, I guess, but talented? No. There are many pop artists like this that I simply do not care for, but then something happens, something that makes me change my opinion of a song, and causes me to embarrassingly sing along to a song that I once professed to hate. What brings me to this lowly state? Parodies of songs, or to be very honest, nerd parodies of songs. Without fail, if you take a song I hate and relate it to something nerdy, I’m suddenly a silly screaming fangirl, which brings me to my latest Web Crush. Ladies and gentleman—Mr. Steve Martin!

No! Not that one, you idiot! The Cooler Steve Martin! What do you mean you don’t believe me? Just check this guy out!

Cool, right? Ha! I thought so! This video has everything a nerd could ask for looting, minecraft, wizards, comic book references, the Force, big guns (“I call it Vera.“), and to put it quite simply, nerds doing awesome nerd things. Steve also got rid of the annoying part in the original song where they just say the word “wiggle” over and over. Seriously, LMFAO, what the fuck?! It’s replaced by the much more hilarious “study, study, study, study, study, yeah!”  It also has zombies. I love zombies!

I would also recommend that Steve nerdify: Fell in Love in a Hopeless Place, Love You Like a Love Song, and The One That Got Away. Those all need nerdified immediately… because they suck.

So check out, like, and subscribe to The Cooler Steve Martin‘s latest video and check out his vlog too!

Go now and support my latest Web Crush!

Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon)

Those of us here at LGG&F worked tirelessly to compile and vote on the Top 10 canon and Top 10 fanon pairings in Geekdom. You have no idea how hard it was to come to a consensus on what was actually canon or not!

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Aurelio Voltaire Goth Extraordinaire!

Bonjour mes petits belle les lecteurs!

Despite what my most likely incorrect French may lead you to believe, this post is not about the famous French philosopher. Non! I am writing about the beloved Goth musician Voltaire. I first became aware of Voltaire on a fateful day in the previously Goth/alternative clothing store Hot Topic. I was weighing the pros and cons of purchasing sparkly black nail polish when underneath a glittery skull notebook and a Grr shirt I spotted a little hardback book called What is Goth? Curious, I began to casually read the smudged black and red pages, expecting passages of misery and woe and maybe how to apply eyeliner. What I found was far more interesting. It began with “Please read this while I go pretend to kill myself.” Five minutes into picking up the book I was laughing so hard the spiky-faced girl behind the counter asked if I needed help. Imagine, getting help in a Hot Topic! I then bought the book which would change my view forever.

Voltaire begins What is Goth? with a short biography about himself. It includes being beaten by bullies, his love of Star Trek, tossing toast at Rocky, and living as a Goth stop motion animator in New York City. He also talks about becoming a Goth musician and how Goth became a term that defined him. The rest of the book is a shadowy trip through Gothdom, including dark dances, Gothic names, batty situations, and more than a few digs at the “mundanes” or “normal” people that like to give Goths a hard time. He discusses the differences between punks, Goths, and ravers and the different types of Goths you might encounter. The book is awesome and I highly recommend it.

Voltaire is not only an awesome writer though, he is also a musician. His first album, “The Devils Bris” is not only catchy, but hilarious as well. I recommend “When You’re Evil,” “The Man Upstairs” and “Ex Lover’s Lover.” His third album “BooHoo” features BRAINS! A song used on the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy in the “Little Rock of Horrors” episode. From this album I recommend that song, plus “Future Ex Girlfriend,” and “The Vampire Club.” There are many other albums, but I’ll let you find out about them yourself (there is even a country album). His latest album has a really long title that I will abridge as “Riding a Black Unicorn…” I heard a few of these songs, plus the other I mentioned in his latest concert in Pittsburgh. On a personal note I have actually met him in person and he is not only really nice and will give you a hug, he might even kiss you on the cheek!

Ahem, Voltaire also draws comic books featuring Deady the Malevolent Teddy, Chi-Chian, and his first comic Oh My Goth! He has also written a book called Paint It Black, which is a Goth interior decorating book where most of the instructions involve ultra flat black spray paint and an open area. He has also been on television shows and was once on FOX news of all things. He is also an animator and model maker. Damn, this guy does everything! Check him out! I sure will be.

Au revoir mes chéris!

Voltaire’s website, Voltaire on YouTube